By Chris Beatty
EVERETT – Without its leading scorer and assist maker, any team would struggle offensively.
When you’re in the state playoffs it could mean the end of your season.
The Cascade girls soccer team fell victim to a pair of fluke goals and were unable to recover offensively in a 2-1 Class 4A first round playoff loss to South Kitsap Tuesday at Memorial Stadium.
The Bruins were unable to recover offensively because they missing injured scoring leader Megan Lienhard.
The loss knocked the Bruins (17-1-0) out of the state tournament and ended their season. South Kitsap (13-0-3) moved on to play a quarterfinal match this weekend against the winner of today’s Woodinville-Curtis game.
“Every year this team has set higher and higher goals,” Cascade coach Jamie Gay said. “Now its time to set a loftier one for next season.”
The game-deciding goal came with seven minutes remaining in regulation. South Kitsap’s Sarah Groves set up to take a direct kick from more than 40 yards in front of the goal.
Groves, who had scored the first South Kitsap goal on a free kick that skipped under the gloves of Cascade goalie Morgan Carter, hit a line drive that stayed 7 feet off of the ground.
The ball sailed just over everyone’s heads until it reached the back of the Cascade goal just beyond the reach of a leaping Carter to give South Kitsap a 2-1 advantage.
“We were expecting more of a cross in that situation,” Gay said. “I don’t think she (Carter) expected it to be driven over her head like that.”
Trailing 2-1 with just minutes to play, Cascade turned up the pressure, attacking the South Kitsap goal with close to a dozen shots.
The final series of plays saw four point-blank shots by Cascade players deflected away by either parts of the crossbar or frantic South Kitsap keeper Megan Moray.
“We just tried to continue to do things like we did in the regular season,” Gay said. “Losing our top scorer is a hard void to fill. It was difficult trying to make up for all the missed offense.”
Lienhard, strained a knee ligament in the first 10 minutes of last week’s game against Shorewood and was unavailable for Tuesday’s game.
With Lienhard out, the scoring burden fell squarely on the shoulders of Cascade’s second-leading scorer, Stephanie Barnes.
Just four minutes after South Kitsap opened the scoring, Barnes answered with a goal for Cascade to tie the score 1-1 with 25 minutes remaining in the first half.
Barnes beat everyone to a long ball sent by the Bruins’ Shannon Baskett about 20 yards out to score the lone Cascade goal.
“Megan, Stephanie and Kelsey (Ray) have been the backbone of our team for the past four years,” said Gay of his three four-year starters. “They certainly have elevated this program to where it is today, and they will be sorely missed by everyone.